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Public safety committee discusses violence, bar closing times, Bikefest

Horry County's public safety committee looked at violence in the area at a recent meeting. (Source: WMBF News) Horry County's public safety committee looked at violence in the area at a recent meeting. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A new group tasked with addressing crime in Horry County gave details on its purpose and its members during a Monday presentation. 

Falling under Horry County's public safety committee, the Community Violence Sub Committee consists of members of various communities, law enforcement and clergy.

"What we want to do is investigate and identify what are we currently doing, but, more importantly, what should we being doing," explained George Payton, a member of the sub committee and pastor of St. Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church in Aynor.

Horry County Councilman Al Allen, chairman of the public safety committee, appointed Councilman Jimmy Washington as chairman of the sub committee,

During Monday's meeting Allen laid out the duties and responsibilities of the committee. 

The group will investigate and identify any and all possible causes and influences that have contributed to the recent rash of violent incidents within Horry County. They will also focus primarily on the youth. 

Payton said he believes this committee will give those in law enforcement and the government a different perspective to stop the violence. 

"It also helps to have another pair of eyes to see things. This team, this new sub-committee, can see things that they may not be able to see," said Payton. 

He added the group will look at what other counties and cities are doing and try to see if there is a plan in place that Horry County can replicate. 

Allen said the group will also identify and rank all programs by government, community and private organizations that are currently operating to counteract violence within the county. 

"I think the first thing to do is listen, go look, see, investigate what are we currently doing. Look at  the fire department, the sheriff's department, the police department and the gang committees to see what they are doing. Then, at some point, we've got to sit down and reflect and compare to what someone else is doing," Payton said. 

The committee must be prepared to make a presentation before Horry County Council on all the findings and any recommendations for the future. 

The first report on their progress is expected at the September 2016 Public Safety Committee meeting.

On April 21, the Community Violence Sub Committee will hold its first meeting at 5:30 p.m., at the Horry County Government and Justice Center. 

The committee members consist of: 

Councilman Jimmy Washington (Chairman)

Holly Heniford - Horry County Schools

Horry County Police Department Chief Saundra Rhodes (and/or designee)

Horry County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tom Fox (and/or designee)

Van Washington - Community leader

Dr. George Payton - Pastor, St. Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church (Committee Spokesperson)

Kellie Moon - Committee Clerk

In other business, the Horry County Public Safety Committee is considering changing the hours of operation for businesses that serve on-premise alcohol.

The committee said the change could cut down on violence and reduce the number of law enforcement calls received at establishments that are open during late hours. 

According to the amendment, commercial establishments which allow for the on-premises consumption of beer, ale, porter, wine, and alcoholic liquors shall be prohibited from operating between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m.

The change would affect the current business ordinance that relates to unincorporated areas of Horry County. 

Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said the county pulled the statistics and noticed the number of calls increase significantly during those hours. 

The committee is concerned that private clubs may slip through the cracks of the law because most of those establishments are regulated under state law, so they want to do more research before taking their final recommendations before county council. 

Bourcier said establishments that stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m., but remain open would now have to be closed from 2 to 6 a.m.

The committee will further discuss the issue at next month's meeting, Bourcier added. 

Another item up for discussion was Bikefest. According to Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster, plans are on schedule.

Webster told the committee they did not anticipate making any major changes to their plans that were put into place last year.

The county looks to continue to meet with Myrtle Beach law enforcement to finalize plans, but Webster said there will only be minor changes and the traffic loop will remain in effect.

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